The Two Blumenthals

It's interesting that Richard Blumenthal has been getting a lot of big press and bad press out of state since The New York Times reported that the attorney general made a false claim to have served in Vietnam.

It's a good thing for him that out-of-state political pundits are not the ones who will be voting for Connecticut's next senator.

Probably the harshest rhetoric came first from Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who said: "The United States Senate cannot take on the morally dead weight of this candidate without honor."

Maureen Dowd, in a column "Lies as Wishes" on the op ed page of the Times, put the Connecticut attorney general on her analysis couch, suggesting Blumenthal was channeling the person he wanted to be.

"Blumenthal added a filigree here and there, not because he needed them to win, but perhaps because those more heroic actions fed his innermost desires," Dowd wrote.

Blumenthal was also kicked around the tables of the Sunday morning talk shows this week.

"I don't know what got into him," Sam Donaldson said on ABC.

Cokie Roberts said flatly Blumenthal should get out of the race.

"This is a not a year for phonies," she said.

Columnist George F. Will also counseled Democrats to get rid of him before it's too late.

The conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal tied Blumenthal's Vietnam claims to his record of litigation against corporate interests.

"Mr. Blumenthal's Vietnam problem is all too typical of a sense of entitlement and impunity that has built up over many years of exercising vast power with little restraint," the editorial said. "This is not the kind of character that will change Washington."

Even Vice President Joe Biden called out Blumenthal this week when introducing himself to a group of veterans, saying he didn't want to make a "Blumenthal mistake."

Under other circumstances, Blumenthal might have reveled at the idea of being at the center of a national political discussion.

Instead he must be cringing.

Being called moral dead weight on national television can't be much fun.

And yet at home it seems to be washing right off the popular attorney general.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday has Blumenthal with a comfortable double-digit lead over Republican Linda McMahon in the Senate race, with him taking 56 percent of the vote to her 31.

A healthy 53 percent of voters said they were satisfied with Blumenthal's explanation about his comments on his war record while 38 percent said they thought he lied.

More worrisome for candidate McMahon are her negative numbers, which have risen a lot since a March 17 survey. While 26 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of her then, 39 percent reported an unfavorable opinion this week.

That's all she gets for the $16 million she's spent on her campaign?

I wonder if Republicans have not yet already begun to regret sending Rob Simmons, with all his Vietnam medals, packing.

And Democrats have not yet rolled out the ads that surely will depict McMahon presiding over an entertainment product juiced up with violence, prostitution, adultery and other topics not so conducive to a family values campaign.

Some of it, like a picture of McMahon's daughter in the World Wrestling Entertainment ring with a bare nipple showing, can't even be used in opposition advertisements.

I think by the election, Connecticut voters will have an even better sense of where the moral dead weight lies.

And lucky for the attorney general those voters apparently think they know their own Blumenthal better than the one skewered by the Sunday morning punditry.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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